When Marc and Sophie Dupont first approached our firm in 2018, they had a dream of moving to America and running their own business, but little idea of how to make it happen. The couple owned a bakery in a small town in France. Though they loved their community and took pride in their work, they dreamed of broader horizons.
On a trip to visit friends in Florida, Marc and Sophie fell in love with the sunshine and friendly people. More importantly, they saw small businesses thriving in the tourism-driven economy. They went home, determined to find a way to sell their bakery and buy a similar business in the United States.
Our first step was to connect the Duponts with an English tutor. Though Marc and Sophie spoke some English, they needed to become fluent to thrive professionally and socially in their adopted homeland. We provided contact information for an American teacher living in their region of France. After 18 months of lessons, the couple felt ready to take the next steps.
In 2022, Marc and Sophie contacted us again, this time ready to actively pursue their dream. They had budgeted $200,000 from the sale of their bakery to buy a business in Florida. As business brokers, specializing in E2 visa buyers, we researched opportunities based on their preferences and identified some options that seemed like a good fit.
One business stood out: a small bakery and cafe in a highly touristic beach community. The long-time owner was retiring. After a decade of operation, the business had strong local name recognition and a devoted customer base. While the sales price of $200,000 was at the top end of Marc and Sophie's budget, the turnkey operation and built-in customer base offered an easy transition.
After signing a non-disclosure agreement with the business broker, we obtained financial records showing steady profits. The Duponts also received photos, a list of equipment, and a copy of the commercial lease. Excited by the potential, Marc and Sophie booked flights to Florida to see it themselves. The visit went smoothly; they found the owner friendly and the customers enthusiastic.
With the Duponts' enthusiastic approval, we drafted and submitted an offer letter at the full $200,000 asking price. Our offer included standard contingencies around financing and business license transfers. It also specified that the sale was contingent on the buyers successfully obtaining E2 investor visas.
The seller accepted the offer. While Marc and Sophie began E2 visa preparations, we undertook standard due diligence, retaining a local CPA to review the past 3 years of financial records. The assessment indicated that the bakery had strong profit margins and steady growth, validating the seller's asking price.
In parallel, the couple worked with an immigration attorney to assemble their E2 visa application. With our help, they crafted a solid business plan documenting how their skills and investment would sustain the business for the long term.
A key part of the E2 visa application was demonstrating the bakery was a non-marginal business that would provide a good living income.
Highlighting these healthy financials and staff in the application helped establish that the Duponts were making a substantial investment in an active, ongoing business. This was critical for meeting the E2 visa criteria.
After several rounds of refinement, the attorney submitted the completed E2 visa application to the U.S. embassy in France.
Following an interview at the embassy, Marc and Sophie's E2 investor visas were approved. Six weeks later, they were on a plane back to Florida. We helped facilitate the closing process, and the Duponts were soon handing the retiring owner a cashier's check for $200,000.
The rest of the story wrote itself. The Duponts were warmly welcomed into the community. Their diligence and charm quickly won over any skeptical longtime customers. With Marc's baking skills and Sophie's friendly customer service, the business thrived. Within 6 months, sales were up 30%.
The Duponts have now been in business for over a year. We check in periodically to provide guidance; recently, we assisted as they applied for a license to serve wine and beer. But mostly, we enjoy hearing about their growing success when we chat. Marc and Sophie are well on their way to achieving their American dream.
Sylvain Perret is a business professional who has been living in the United States since 2010. Along with his wife Daphnee, he has established several businesses in the country, including Integrity International Brokers, an agency based in Orlando where he works as a business broker, real estate broker, business consultant, and business plan writer. Over the years, he has helped numerous clients from around the world achieve success in their projects to create or take over a company in the United States with an E2 visa. He is highly knowledgeable about U.S. immigration issues and is the author of the book "S'expatrier aux USA grâce aux visas d'entrepreneurs," which is soon to be translated into English. Sylvain is also a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) by the International Business Brokers Association and is regularly consulted on issues related to this field. At the age of 50, Sylvain chose to enhance his expertise in finance and strategy by pursuing a Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Florida. He successfully graduated in May 2023, adding a valuable finishing touch to his knowledge. He is active on LinkedIn and Twitter, where he shares his insights and experiences with a wider audience.
Last Updated on November 23, 2023 by Sylvain Perret